Sebastian Masuda to Hold First Solo Exhibition in Los Angeles


Sebastian Masuda has announced his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. Titled ‘Yes, Kawaii is Art -EXPRESS YOURSELF-’, the exhibition will be held at Japan House and open for six months starting May 2, 2024.

Masuda’s art was last shown in Los Angeles eight years ago as part of the TIME AFTER TIME CAPSULE art project shown at the JANM (Japanese American National Museum) in 2017. The new exhibition will feature selections from the ‘Yes, Kawaii is Art’ exhibition held in Kitakagaya in Osaka and Kanda Myojin in Tokyo in 2021. In addition to VR works created during the pandemic and other works that are making their U.S. debut, a work titled EXPRESS YOURSELF, which is also the exhibition’s subtitle, will be on display for the first time.

“What is ‘Kawaii?’” —–Masuda, who has been active mainly in Harajuku, Tokyo for 30 years since the 1990s and moved to the U.S. in 2021, will use the exhibition to explore the history and depth of ‘Kawaii,’ now known worldwide as a style and idea originating from Japan. He’ll also present new possibilities for the survival and continued popularity of ‘kawaii’ in the future from his unique and creative perspective.

‘Colorful Rebellion -Seventh Nightmare-’ / Representative Work of the First LA Exhibition


‘TIME AFTER TIME CAPSULE’ / The Art Project’s Triumphant Return After 8 Years


■Unravel the history of ‘kawaii’ that continues to the present day. This is the first U.S. exhibition of collaborative projects with the ‘kawaii’ community.

In the exhibition, the artifacts from the research project conducted with students of Kyoto University of Art’s Ultra Factory in 2020 and 2021 have been reimagined for the international market and will be exhibited overseas for the first time. The project was inspired by Masuda’s desire to unravel the historical roots of Kawaii culture. A timeline was created to analyze with the students how Kawaii culture originated in postwar girls’ magazines and continued to the present day, how it fused and blossomed with Harajuku street fashion in the 1990s, and how it later expanded globally as a major aspect of Japanese pop culture. An online meetup with the ongoing worldwide Kawaii community will be held and a world map showing the participant’s locations will also be on display.

Also on display for the first time in the U.S. will be the ‘Sense Share Bear,’ a VR work created in collaboration with Berlin’s Kawaii community that was first shown at the Pudong Art Museum in Shanghai in 2021. The creation was made by communicating remotely with the Berlin-based creative unit MORI during the pandemic, and visitors can enjoy it while petting a massive stuffed bear. Attendees will be able to experience ‘kawaii’ as an interactive experience, not just something to be seen.

<Comment from Sebastian Masuda>
“What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘kawaii?’ Maybe you think of loveliness and cuteness. Or maybe you think of something kitschy, colorful, or childish. But these things are a very superficial part of what makes something ‘kawaii.’

The idea of ‘kawaii’ that I explore in this exhibition refers to a new creation that has developed uniquely over about 80 years as a part of pop culture, as a movement, and as a philosophy centered on young people. Today, ‘kawaii’ is a weapon or armor, a spiritual prop, and a driving force for the younger generation, transcending race, religion, gender, age, and borders.

It’s been three years since I moved to America. What I saw was not a spectacular landscape full of freedom, but economic disparity, a disconnected society, drugstore looting, a school caste system, and racial/gender/sexual discrimination in everyday life. In the midst of that, I thought ‘kawaii is my tranquilizer,’ and ‘I feel like I can keep living because of ‘kawaii.’ These powerful phrases are why I wanted to hold this exhibition.

What is your identity? How will you survive in the future?
I’ll give you some hints for how to live going forward.”

Yes, Kawaii is Art -EXPRESS YOURSELF- (Sebastian Masuda Exhibition)
Dates: May 2, 2024 ~ November 3, 2024
Times: Monday-Friday, 11:00~19:00 / Weekends 11:00~20:00
Venue: JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2 (https://www.japanhousela.com
Address: 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angels, CA 90028
Admission: Free


Sebastian Masuda Profile
Born in 1970, Masuda currently resides in New York City. After becoming involved in theater and contemporary art in the early 1990s, he opened the popular accessory shop 6%DOKIDOKI in Harajuku in 1995 as a place for free expression. His consistently unique and vivid sense of color has seen him create works that transcend the boundaries between art, fashion, and entertainment. Masuda created the art used in the music video for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s PONPONPON, completely produced the KAWAII MONSTER CAFE, and has been involved in countless projects to share Kawaii culture with the world. In 2017, he was named a Cultural Envoy for the Agency of Cultural Affairs, while in 2018 he became a visiting professor at New York University. In 2019, Masuda was named one of the top 100 Most Respected Japanese in the World by Newsweek. In 2023, the sushi restaurant SUSHIDELIC opened in New York City for which Masuda served as creative director. The restaurant won the Grand Prix in the project category during the CJPF Awards 2024.



JAPAN HOUSE introduces Japan from many angles including arts and crafts, design, architecture, science and technology, pop culture, and food culture. Rather than lumping Japan into a single definition, the location continues to ask the sincere question “What is Japan?” while deepening visitor’s understanding of Japan’s constantly evolving culture. JHLA occupies 14,000 sq. ft. on two floors in Ovation Hollywood (formerly Hollywood Highland) to introduce various aspects of Japan to U.S. and international visitors. The second-floor space includes a gallery focusing on Japanese creativity along with the WAZA store, which sells products from all over Japan. The fifth-floor space includes the UKA kaiseki restaurant, a multi-purpose salon, and a relaxing library with views of Hollywood and Los Angeles.